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To know how Public Relations (PR) can help your business and your brand, you need to understand the role it plays amongst the different marketing tactics and what each delivers. This must inform your strategy so that it can deliver against your business objectives and marketing spend.
PR’s job is to add great value to organic (not paid for) content that ethically educates your target customer on the problems they may be experiencing and provide better solutions to remove their pain points. Second to this, your prospects must understand how your services and products help them, what difference they make, and how they can benefit from what you offer.
PR creates trust and credibility for your business, as well as awareness so that your sales tactics can be successful. Your prospects are influenced during the sales process in the evaluation phase – before they convert (buy) – and this is a very important step in the decision making process.
It is at this point your potential customer will review if you are ‘the expert that you say you are’, and that your business is a valuable source. They will be influenced by the story of how you can help, why you or your business care about them, and why you are great at what you offer, as well as stories and proof of how you helped others and what they can expect to gain.
Digital PR and how it will support SEO/searchability
You may have heard that your business needs a great digital footprint? If so, you may wonder what that includes. It simply means that when anyone searches you or your business online, you come up preferably on page 1 of the search engine. While PR does not do the job of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it definitely helps with searchability, especially if you are featured in high ranking news pages and websites.
Are your profiles on digital platforms popping up and do they look professional? Are they aligned to who you say you are? Do they provide the right credentials around what you are great at and what you offer? Do they make it easy for others to connect with you?
This also applies to businesses and their brands. Having a good and healthy digital footprint also includes a polished and professional, well-represented ‘visual’ image that has a consistent brand voice and message across all social media pages, your website/s and other digital marketing materials.
Consistency is crucial when building a credible, trusted, and recognised brand that your market feels safe with, and knows what to expect from you through your marketing communications.
PR is not a lead generation tool
It is imperative to understand that PR is not going to get your phone ringing non-stop with new business leads. After a radio interview you may see some website visits or get a message or two, however you most likely won’t see a massive immediate impact.
This is 100% normal, as a few media interviews will not get you famous or your brand top-of-mind immediately. What you do need for your PR strategy to work is consistent exposure in the media to gain attention. Your prospects needs to see, read or hear about you or your business several times. It is proven that they need to see you up to eight times for it to stick.
PR as a solo marketing activity
Will PR work as a standalone marketing strategy? The answer is yes, but only if you have an excellent sales strategy that is currently producing results and your PR can then do its job to support sales in its closing stage.
As explained, PR is not a sales lead generation tactic, so how else will it support you?
Media exposure can support you on overall brand awareness and to stay top-of-mind. It can also act as an education tool, and can tackle difficult misperception challenges in the market.
You can share these media articles with potential customers, and include them into some of your marketing tactics like landing pages, newsletters, and social media pages like LinkedIn.
PR supports the introduction job for you as the business owner or the sales team; your prospects get to know who the business is and why you have something amazing to sell that can change their business or lives. PR helps answer the question ‘why you’?
PR also provides prospective customers with comfort, as they have already heard, read or seen your business, which makes the job for sales much easier. It can turn new or cold leads into warm receptive customer leads, which can be converted easier.
Hopefully this shines a light on what to expect from PR in your business. A final point to note is that PR needs to run for a few months at the very least. It is recommended that PR run for no-less than three active months to see some good impact on business objectives, however ideally it takes six to twelve months to gain great consistent media exposure to your target market and to build trust.
Consistency is the name of the game in marketing and PR. If you have great PR and then suddenly disappear, people will ask whether you are still around.
On a final note, PR will deliver the bonus of extra media placements through organic searchability complementing your SEO, lead generation and sales strategies.
Don’t forget your media pack…
It is important to have a media pack that holds the information the media will need to be able to publish content about you.
- Spokespeople need a biography and high-quality friendly images in the correct format
for media to use – as a bare minimum.
- You need a brand story that connects the target audiences with why you do what you do, and why the market will need you.
- Good brand imagery and an image bank of the business, services and products is also required to support written content.
- Numbers captured through infographics and product shots can also help media visually communicate your message to your audiences in a way that is easy to understand, memorable – and more importantly – connects with them emotionally.
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First published on: ForbesAfrica